The hatred and incitement emanating from the ruling party has not passed over the municipal elections. Signs were put up in Tel Aviv streets this week advertising the Likud’s municipal roster, headed by Arnon Giladi. An “us or them” message comes through all the campaign slogans, extending to social media as well. “The Hebrew city or the PLO city”; “the Hebrew city or the infiltrators’ city”; “Zionist education or Breaking the Silence in the schools.”
Back in 2013, the Giladi-led Likud roster’s campaign slogan calling for “silencing the muezzin in Jaffa” was banned. The chairman of the Central Elections Committee, former Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, said at the time that its message “will almost certainly lead to severe disturbance of the peace and hurt the feelings of the Arab-Muslim population in Israel.” But past experience did not deter Likud and Giladi from revisiting the same tactics.
In addition to his position as deputy to Mayor Ron Huldai, Giladi is chairman of the Dan Region Association of Towns, which is responsible for infrastructure and environmental quality. On his Facebook page Giladi repeatedly blames “extreme leftist and anti-Zionist elements” and “Islamic extremists who are trying to turn Jaffa into a Palestinian enclave” for everyday problems that Tel Aviv residents might encounter. He is working fertile ground: After decades of neglect by the local authorities, in recent years the government has also neglected the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv, failing to lift a finger to either properly absorb the asylum seekers there or disperse them throughout the country.
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It comes as no surprise that national Likud headquarters has not disavowed the campaign messages of the party’s Tel Aviv slate. After all, similar messages are what brought Likud’s chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the Prime Minister’s Office (“Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves”).
Sikkuy, a group that promotes Jewish-Arab equality, called on the attorney general to condemn this open display of racism. But that is not enough. As mayor of the city that upholds the banner of liberalism in Israel, Huldai himself must publicly denounce the campaign and work to remove Giladi from his position in charge of infrastructure in greater Tel Aviv. The Central Elections Committee chairman must ban this campaign of incitement.